If you’re reading this in the UK, there’s a decent chance you haven’t yet heard of hard seltzer — unless you’re a drinks industry insider or a particularly enthusiastic alcoholic.
In fact, a recent poll showed that zero percent of Brits surveyed knew what the hell hard seltzer was. Ok, the poll in question was me asking a few of my mates, so the sample size was, admittedly, small. But the fact remains, despite a rapidly-growing bandwagon of brands becoming available, hard seltzer still falls into the “next big thing” category of beverages over here.
In the USA, it’s a different story. In some states it’s apparently outselling beer. And you can probably tell from the name that hard seltzer is an American innovation. It sounds like something Humphrey Bogart would order in a Prohibition basement joint… the rain drips softly onto the counter from the gutter-like rim of his homberg hat; his camel trench coat steams as he hangs it below the bar…
Yeah Yeah, Enough With The Film Noir Stuff. What Actually IS Hard Seltzer?
Sorry, where was I? So hard seltzer is essentially a fruity, alcoholic sparkling water, often infused with botanicals. Light, refreshing and low in calories.
I managed to get my hands on a brand new one called Lilo. At the time of writing it’s not in the shops yet and as far as I’m aware this is its first review online. How did I land such an exclusive, you ask? Let’s just say I used my shadowy ninja network.
Lilo comes in two flavours: cranberry and rosehip, and white grape and elderflower. Both are housed in dinky 250ml cans and are 3.5% alcohol by volume.
Lilo Hard Seltzer: The Taste
I’ve reviewed a few canned wines in the past and been quite critical of them. But this is a bit different. The canned wines were all trying to make a virtue of not using a glass, which isn’t what Lilo’s makers are saying. It just happens to be sold in cans. And if you do want to drink it straight from the tin, Lilo’s effervescent nature does make it more suited to this method of consumption than a still wine, where so much emphasis is placed on aroma.
Personally, I eschewed the use of can, mug or plastic beaker with Winnie the Pooh on the side and poured it over ice in a highball glass. Which is what Humphrey Bogart would have done.
I try the grape and elderflower first and soon realise what should have been obvious — that this is very different from tasting wine. My nose takes a back seat, because most of the action is happening on my tongue.
The flavours are subtle but extremely refreshing and I’m thinking this could not only be enjoyed as a light summer afternoon drink (“is this acceptable to drink during work-time?” my girlfriend asks), but also, in contrast, as a fuel-injected tonic substitute for gin.
Is is also very moreish.
Right from it opening “clack”, it’s clear the elderberry and rosehip flavour has more going on on the nose than its sibling. Sweet ‘n’ juicy with a hint of bubblegum, I like this one even more. Apparently it contains ginger root and I reckon this offsets the floral rosehip really nicely. I could easily imagine drinking this while floating in the sea on one of those plastic inflatable things. What are they called again? Oh yeah…
If you’d like to try Lilo for yourself, a dozen cans are currently priced at £25.99 on their website. So that’s… just over two quid a can. Which sounds very reasonable to me.
For further info and to order online, see www.lilodrinks.com